6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 4.4 Manage Project Knowledge: Definitions

Before I list the tools and techniques involved in this process in the next post, let me first make some distinctions that PMI makes in its discussion of Manage Project Knowledge.

  • Work performance data, work performance information, and work performance reports–work data is generated during the process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work.   For example, John worked 20 hours last week on the project and so did Mary.   Work information would take that data, and then make it meaningful to the project team by comparing it to the plan.  If they both were supposed to work that many hours, then fine, the Schedule Performance Index for that work period will be 1.00.   However, if John was supposed to work 40 hours, then only 40 (20 for John plus 20 for Mary) out of 60 scheduled hours were actually done, and the Schedule Performance Index is now, 40/60 or 0.67.   This is work performance information, because it is useful to the team:   it tells them they’re behind schedule!  If they go back to John and find out this is just a temporary problem, and that he will able to make up the time either on the weekend or the following week, then fine.   However, if John says that going forward he is going to only be able to work 20 hours on the project because of other work his functional manager has him doing, then that may be a problem.   The problem uncovered by the work performance information and its solution might be contained in a work performance report, that goes to selected stakeholders.
  • Information vs. knowledge–this is not explicitly as stated in the PMBOK® Guide as I would like.   However, it seems that work performance information is related to a specific project, but knowledge has a more general context, and is therefore transferable from project to project.   That is why knowledge from previous projects is incorporated in Organizational Process Assets such as company guidelines, processes, and procedures, so it can be used on future projects.   However, this body of knowledge is not static; there are lessons learned on a project which could help future projects and that is why the lessons learned register is created by this process, to help transfer new knowledge back to the organization at large.
  • Explicit knowledge vs. implicit knowledge–Explicit knowledge is something that can be written down and codified, whereas implicit knowledge is the skills, experience and expertise that people gain during a project.    Explicit knowledge can be shared using information management systems (see next paragraph), but implicit knowledge is not external but internal, and is only transferable by sharing that experience through conversations and interactions with people.
  • Information management vs. knowledge management–systems for information management include a Project Management Information System such as Microsoft Project, and of course the lessons learned register itself that is compiled during the course of a project.   However, knowledge management techniques are many, because you can share with someone in your company, in discussion forums or meetings, or with someone in your industry, at meetings of communities of practice like the dinner meetings that are held chapters of the Project Management Institute.

The fact that knowledge is shared by conversations and interactions with people means that people who are introverted, like myself, who find these activities more difficult than people who are extroverted, will find themselves potentially at a disadvantage.   This is why I recommend Toastmasters International for anybody who is a project manager; many Project Management Institute chapters have their own Toastmasters club (like the Chicagoland club I belong to), and here you can practice on interactions with people in a supportive atmosphere which will allow you to develop the confidence you need to be able interact with others and transfer knowledge back and forth about project management.

With these distinctions in mind, then, let’s turn to the tools and techniques of this process Manage Project Knowledge in the next post…


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